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New HP Printers Sport 60,000 Nozzles

The CM8060 and CM8050 use a print head that spans the width of an average page and sprays ink as the paper moves.
Hewlett-Packard, which is known for charging a premium for its corporate printers, introduced on Wednesday a couple of high-volume enterprise products with new technology that the company claims reduces the cost of color printing by as much as 30%.

The ink-based CM8060 and CM8050 are unique within HP's multi-function printer line in that they use the company's new Edgeline Technology, which uses less ink, thereby enabling HP to charge less, Mike Pervere, marketing product manager for Edgeline, said. The new technology is the result of a $1.4 billion investment HP has made in scalable printing technology.

Rather than use a print head that goes across the page, which is typical of most ink-jet printers, HP has built a stationary one that spans the width of an average page with a thin array of 60,000 nozzles that spray ink as the paper moves. "That's really our major breakthrough," Pervere said of the design.

The result is the ability to print pages faster, using less ink than traditional printers, according to HP. The CM8060 prints 50 pages per minute in color, and 60 pages per minute in black monochrome. The CM8050 is the identical machine, except slower: 40 pages per minute color and 50 pages per minute in monochrome. By comparison, HP's high-end laser printer for corporate use prints at 24 pages per minute in monochrome, while its next fastest ink-jet printer is 10 pages per minute color, and 12 pages per minute monochrome.

In building the new machines, HP focused on reducing the cost of printing for general office use, which is the largest use for most business printers. Both printers are capable of high-quality printing for marketing brochures, and other materials, but in those cases, the cost is the same as the "best market price," according to Pervere.

In general, the new products can reduce the cost of general office color printing by 20 to 30 percent. In addition, HP is charging monochrome rates for pages that have only a little color, no more than about 100 characters or a half-inch square graphic. The latter is important because businesses typically lease printers, paying a monthly fee for the hardware, plus a per page fee that covers supplies and maintenance. Color pages are more expensive than black and white, which can't contain any color.

Put it all together, HP is claiming as much as a 30 percent reduction in color printing, when compared to the average cost in the market. The vendor is hoping the lower price will convince companies to use more color in the office. Many companies consider color too expensive, and opt for monochrome printers only.

Ian Hamilton, analyst for Current Analysis, said he couldn't say whether HP's claims were real. "We're still doing our research," he said. "Typically, HP has not been in the forefront in offering the lowest cost of ownership over the life of their products."

What is certain is that HP competitors, such as Dell and Oki, have been hitting the streets with less expensive products. HP is the largest supplier of business printers both in installed base and market share, and is not in any immediate danger of losing that edge. But the company is seeing price "as a growing message against them," Hamilton said. "I would categorize (the lower-cost message) as a defensive move against the competition."

Nevertheless, reducing overall printing cost is the correct move for HP. "If they're able to do that successfully, then they'll kick out one of the value propositions of their competitors," Hamilton said.

Whether HP reduces overall cost of ownership on its whole product line remains to be seen. The CM8060 and CM8050 are meant to fill a gap in HP's high-volume product line. The list prices are $23,530 and $18,930, respectively. HP claims other products with the same printing speed as the 8060 cost around $27,000.

In the meantime, HP also introduced on Wednesday version 10 of its Jetadmin software for managing printing fleets. The product enables IT administrators to remotely install, configure and manage printers from a standard Web browser. New features include improved support for Active Directory Services, better security, and more customizable usage reports. The software is scheduled to be available for download April 30.

Also available at the end of April is version 4 of the HP Universal Print Driver, which eliminates the need for multiple drivers when using HP LaserJets. The upgrade, for example, makes it possible for organizations to migrate to Windows Vista, without worrying about finding supporting drivers.

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